A cruise ship was battered by a freak 115-mph wind that tilted the vessel 45 degrees, injuring passengers and crew, Inside Edition is reporting.
The Norwegian Cruise Line ship Escape was sailing from New York City to Port Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday night, with a view towards taking the 4,000 passengers onward from there to the Bahamas. The weather was nasty but not particularly worrisome, according to The San Francisco Chronicle — there were bad storms in the South, snow in the Northeast, 30-40 mph winds, and bands of rain across much of their planned route. The ship’s crew planned to sail right through the weather, knowing the vessel, with the best weather-detecting equipment money could buy, would get them safely through.
It didn’t work out that way. A little bit before midnight, as the vessel was passing by Delaware’s Delmarva Peninsula, the ship suddenly “lurched,” as passengers described it. Passengers were forced to duck and cover as furniture, eating utensils, and other loose items became projectiles.
Passenger Charlotte Conmey said it was like a scene out of a disaster movie.
“People were panicking, I mean running around crying screaming. A true scene out of the Titanic. I have been on cruises a lot and never felt like anything like this before.”
The vessel was tilted at a 45-degree angle for about a minute before the ship’s stability mechanisms were able to right it.
At least eight passengers and crew members were injured in what the cruise line describes as “minor injuries.” They were treated by the ship’s medical staff and then taken to a Port Canaveral hospital.
“Those guests and crew received immediate medical attention or are being treated by the ship’s medical staff.”
The ship wasn’t damaged and, according to Norwegian Cruise Lines, remains fully operational. The vessel continued its journey to the Bahamas after dropping off the injured passengers in Port Canaveral.
Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said that his models showed storms and rough seas in that part of the ocean that night, but nothing suggested Category-3 hurricane winds.
“It strikes me as a freak thing… It was a run-of-the-mill low pressure system. We didn’t have any wind alerts up.”
Modern cruise ships are generally safe from most forms of weather-related hazards, but sometimes a rogue wave or gust of wind can imperil the vessel. Former cruise ship captain Hendrik J. Keijer says that if you’re on a cruise ship that is tilting or otherwise being battered by wind and waves, he says your best bet is to “stay where [you] are.”